x=RND(4835) #3: Ace Invaders

November 12, 2008

Welcome to the regular feature of The Joy Of Sticks where I visit Atari Legend and play and review the first game that appears on its ‘Featured Game’ sidebar, no matter what it is! Here goes… Oh dear.


  • Ace Invaders (link)
  • Vintage: 1988
  • Developer: Gary Wheaton
  • Publisher: Budgie UK
  • Genre: Shoot ’em up

Well, it appears my luck has run out. From a choppy Outrun sequel, to one of the best footy games ever made, to this: a Budgie UK Space Invaders remake. Space Invaders must be the single most ported/remade game in the history of video games. Maybe this is because it is so easy to code, many potential game programmers cut their teeth on a version of Taito’s seminal arcade smash. Gary Wheaton obviously thought so, as this isn’t his only Space Invaders remake that he released under Budgie UK.

The problem is *heathen sacrelege warning*, the original Space Invaders is actually pretty dull, so any update that doesn’t actually update the archaic gameplay is doomed from the off. This is why Space Invaders Extreme on the DS is utterly brilliant, Super Space Invaders is decent, and Ace Invaders is poo.

Flavour one. Did I just have a stroke or something?

Flavour one. Did I just have a stroke or something?

While listening to some pleasingly old-old-school chip tunes you must choose from the game’s two flavours: the tediously slow Original Edition and the updated (worse graphics but sped up to a playable level) Limited Edition. Ignoring the Original Edition because it really is incredibly slow (makes the original Space Invaders look like Border Down), let’s swifty on to the Limited Edition (limited how, exactly?).

Ace Invader’s downfall is also, paradoxically, its saving grace. It is a very faithful Space Invaders clone, and therefore worthy of a few plays before the over-revved acceleration of the invaders becomes too irritating to bear. Control of your ship is pretty tight, and the collision detection is spot on. Also, if you get hit by an alien or its payload, your ship crumples like a Mini Clubman in a pile-up which is a nice effect. Unfortunately, (though for the life of me I can’t remember whether you could do this in the original) you can’t shoot enemy bullets, denying the potential of a nice risk/reward scoring mechanism.

He's shooting his own base, the fool!

He's shooting his own base, the fool!

In summary: though my direct comparison between Ace Invaders and faeces may have been a little hasty and very harsh (the game has its redeeming features – see aforementioned controls, collision detection, Mini Clubman crumple), this is not one I’ll be playing again.

Score: stick

PS: This makes my Turbo Outrun score of one and a half look very mean, but I don’t want to give this half a stick. There will be games much worse than this, I’m sure.

PPS: Gary Wheaton is also responsible for Bug Spray, a decent looking Psst! clone (for those who haven’t played it Psst! Is a superb twitch gaming gem from Ultimate on the Spectrum, and Douglas Rockmoor, a faithful looking Boulderdash remake. I’ll have to check those out at a later date.


One comment

  1. Feeling a bit harsh, eh? Well, that’s quite justified it seems, even thoguh the SI formula isn’t that atrocious really. Texas Instruments Invaders still gets its fair share of gaming time around here…

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